The economic bloc held a conference in
Unfortunately, only four of the ten members actually sent their interior minister to the meeting. Five others sent their deputy interior minister, and
How can we expect serious action from ECO on the economic front when member states don’t send their ministers to important meetings?
Although ECO’S ten members, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, have a long way to go to achieve economic integration, especially since six of them were separated from the others until they gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, obviously more concerted efforts are necessary.
Trade between ECO states has been extremely limited. Over the past few years, on average only about six percent of each ECO member’s trade has been with other ECO zone countries.
Yet, the year 2015 has been set as the target date for establishing a prosperous ECO free trade area that would be able to rival other regional economic blocs.
The goal is achievable, but only if ECO members formulate a comprehensive plan and implement efficient programs to realize the plan.
Many economic analysts say that ECO is adrift and lacks direction.
In addition, it is not clear if all the members of the bloc are committed to ECO.
A glance at the activities of other economic blocs, such as the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mercosur (the Southern Common Market), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC), could give ECO a cue as to the direction it needs to take.
The European Union has established a single currency in the 12-member euro zone, and most other members and candidate countries are eager to adopt the euro.
ASEAN is one of the world’s most successful economic blocs despite the uneven levels of development among member states.
The South American trade bloc Mercosur has become the major voice in opposition to the neoliberal economic policies of the
NAFTA has increased trade among member states by eliminating tariffs, but this has harmed small farmers and small businesses in
ECO and other
SADC is making great progress, powered by
ECOWAS is working for economic integration and plans to establish a common currency eventually, although these efforts are being hindered by poverty and the political instability in some member states.
The PGCC, which groups all the countries of the
So, what is ECO doing?
ECO states should work for economic integration, try to significantly increase trade exchanges between members, and upgrade the regional transportation network.
However, ECO countries have a great advantage since they are sitting on the old
ECO states should immediately begin construction of a New Silk Road Superhighway from
The New Silk Road Superhighway would definitely increase tourism in the ECO region, and thus would give an additional boost to the economies of member states.
ECO countries must also step up their contributions to efforts to establish the North-South Corridor. Starting work on a Mumbai to Moscow North-South Corridor Superhighway would be an important step toward this end.
The Beijing-Istanbul New Silk Road Superhighway and the Mumbai-Moscow North-South Corridor Superhighway would connect
The ECO region is at the heart of these global crossroads, so ECO members can benefit greatly by establishing such essential transit links through the construction of these superhighways.
Superhighways are prime factors behind the economic success of
ECO states can ride the New Silk Road Superhighway to prosperity, but they must start now.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.